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12 of the Best Breweries in Vermont to Visit

By Ned Doyle and Jessie Beck

Dec 18, 2020

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The Alchemist brewery welcomes beer fans to its airy tasting room in Stowe, Vermont.

Photo by LUV LENS Photography

The Alchemist brewery welcomes beer fans to its airy tasting room in Stowe, Vermont.

Daydreaming of a beer-cation to Vermont? These craft breweries need to be at the top of your list and at the bottom of your glass.

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Although some of the following breweries have temporarily closed their tasting rooms due to COVID, all are still open to pick up cans, bottles, or growlers to go. Vermont also requires all out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14 days, or 7 days after a negative COVID test. Visit vermont.gov for the latest travel restrictions.

With 60-plus breweries and brewpubs across the state, Vermont has roughly one beer sanctuary for every 9,750 residents. That’s a discerning populace. Not surprisingly, the state’s craft beer scene is among the best in the nation, home to notable breweries like Magic Hat and Otter Creek that helped establish the state’s beer scene in the ’90s, as well as newer innovators like Hill Farmstead and the Alchemist (maker of the famed Heady Topper). Many specialize in hoppy IPAs, but there’s also plenty of experimenting happening that will surprise even the most knowledgeable beer nerds. 

Sampling these stand-out suds often means taking a trip to Vermont—many are hard to get outside of the Green Mountain State. But with breweries scattered across the bucolic countryside, it’s not a bad excuse for a New England road trip. Start your quest for the best craft beer with these 12 Vermont breweries.

Sample a pint from Zero Gravity Beer alongside a woodfire pizza.

Breweries in and around Burlington

Imbibers can sign up for a tour with Burlington’s City Brew Tours (currently taking reservations for spring 2021) for a no-maps-required taste of the area’s best, but if you decide to DIY make sure you stop by these Burlington-area breweries.

Foam Brewers

Burlington

Although Foam Brewers has only been around since 2016, cofounder Todd Haire, formerly the head brewer at Magic Hat, has been in the game for much longer. At Foam, Haire and the team work with local ingredients to turn out an ever-changing, and ever-creative, line of beers that earned it a spot on RateBeer’s list of the top 10 new breweries of 2017

Delivering on both views and brews, Foam Brewers’ Waterfront taproom, which overlooks Lake Champlain, features a spacious, outdoor patio. Best known for its hoppy ales and sours, you’ll find beers ranging from the dry-hopped, easy-drinking pale ale, Sun in the Sky, to the out-of-the-box dragonfruit and grapefruit gose, Alien Observer, on tap. 

How to visit

We’d opt for to-go cans right now, although Foam Brewers Burlington is open for in-person dining. Reservations are required and can be made online. Its Hinesburg location, the Annex, is open for curbside pickup only.

Zero Gravity Brewery

Burlington

In 2004, Zero Gravity Brewery began serving beers alongside woodfired pizzas at American Flatbread in downtown Burlington. As interest in its high-quality, classic styles grew—such as the Green State Lager and citra-hopped Conehead IPA—so did its operation. In addition to the original location, Zero Gravity now has a 30-barrel brew house on the main drag of Burlington’s hip, artsy South End Arts District, complete with taproom and spacious outdoor patio.

How to visit

Drop by any day of the week to pick up cans and bottles to go, which you can order in advance, or grab a seat outside (first come, first served).

Four Quarters Brewing

Winooski

Experimentation is king at Four Quarters Brewing, a 10-barrel brewery in the hip city of Winooski, just outside Burlington. Here, they use oddball ingredients such as raspberries, pumpkin, and even locally made apple cider doughnuts to make rauchbiers, sours, stouts, and (of course) IPAs. The result? Beers like the Fluffer Nutter Chocolate Drop, an imperial milk stout brewed with chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow, and bananas.

How to visit

Pick up cans and growlers daily. The tasting room is currently open by reservation only, Thursday–Sunday.

Burlington Beer Company

Williston

Burlington Beer Company’s home is close to Burlington International Airport in a spacious, modern taproom that shares the space with its fermentation tanks. Focusing on hoppy pale ales, fruit-forward beers, porters, and stouts, the team experiments with hops, malts, yeast, fruits, and vegetables to put its own stamp on classic beers.

Brewing up to 75 different beers each year, Burlington Beer Company turns out varieties like Harmonic Convergence (a gose made with boysenberry), Peasant Bread (a wild rice brown ale), and Double Dazzling Gleam (a milkshake double IPA with black raspberries, maple, vanilla, and milk sugar). If it’s on the tap or to-go list, be sure to try the Beekeeper IPA, brewed with organic Vermont honey.

It also offers a wide selection of snacks, sandwiches, and tacos from locally sourced ingredients, like Vermont cheeses and New England–raised meat.

How to visit

Burlington Beer Company is currently only open for curbside pickup, which you can order in advance.

Frost Beer Works

Hinesburg

Huddled away in a nondescript building in the town of Hinesburg, just outside the greater Burlington area, Frost Beer Works ranks among the state’s unsung heroes of brewing, cranking out delightful beverages in relative anonymity. The brewery specializes in pale ales like the juicy Plush Double IPA and the Really Pale Ale, but other types such as stouts, porters, and blonde ales are typically available as well.

The taproom may be unassuming, but its proximity to the freshly produced beer—made just one room away—makes it a pleasant place to while away a weekend afternoon when open.

How to visit

Frost Beer Works is currently open for curbside pickup of cans and growlers, Thursday–Saturday. Contact the brewery to schedule a pickup time outside normal hours.

Von Trapp Brewery specializes in German- and Austrian-style beers.

Breweries in Northern Vermont

A trip to the small towns and countryside in Vermont’s Northeast and Northwest Kingdoms is a scenic adventure you’ll be well rewarded for taking. In fact, a few of the world’s best breweries are hidden here.

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Greensboro

No list of Vermont’s best breweries is complete without Hill Farmstead Brewery, which is consistently rated not just one of the best in Vermont, but in the world, according to RateBeer. Outside the tiny town of Greensboro in Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom, the history of this farm-turned-brewery goes well beyond its official 2010 establishment. Founder Shaun Hill grew up here, in the same area where his family has lived for more than two centuries. In fact, the brewery’s logo comes from a sign that hung outside his great-great-great-grandfather’s tavern in the early 19th century—the first of seven generations to make use of the land.

Having expanded over the years as its popularity grew, the brewery now consists of a cozy, rustic taproom and an adjacent shop where visitors can buy to-go bottles. Hill Farmstead’s stock-in-trade lies in growler fills of its mainstay brews like Edward, a pale ale named after Hill’s grandfather, and Mary, a pilsner named for Edward’s mother and Hill’s great-grandmother. Also keep an eye out for bottles of limited specialties like Twilight of the Idols, a winter porter brewed with cinnamon and coffee and aged on vanilla beans.

How to visit

Hill Farmstead is currently open for curbside pickup of to-go orders of cans and bottles.

The Alchemist

Stowe

Often credited for propelling the popularity of the New England–style hazy IPA—a cloudy, more juicy version of more traditional, bitter IPAs—the Alchemist is perhaps best known for the double, hazy IPA that set the trend in motion: Heady Topper. Although virtually impossible to find outside of Vermont until recently, it has nevertheless developed a cult-like following. Devotees have been known to follow delivery trucks on their routes to snap up the beer as soon as it’s delivered.

Drastic measures are not needed for those who make the journey to the Alchemist Brewery in Stowe. Here, fans can sample beers and stock up on cans while ogling the fermentation tanks just on the other side of a plate-glass window that divides the shop and brewery.

How to visit

The Alchemist is currently open for daily curbside pickup at its brewery.

Von Trapp Brewery

Stowe

Yup, those von Trapps, the musical family and inspiration for the Julie Andrews movie The Sound of Music. After reaching the United States, they settled in Stowe where they opened a summer camp—which begat a lodge, then a brewery in 2010. 

Now stationed in a spacious bierhall down the road from the hotel, the von Trapp Brewery specializes in German- and Austrian-style lagers and pilsners, like its award-winning Bohemian pilsner, Golden Helles lager, and Dunkel brown lager. All of their beers pair well with the variety of Bavarian and American foods on the menu, including hamburgers with meat sourced from the cattle grazing on the surrounding von Trapp land. After you fill up on wursts and weissbier, it’s worth a quick drive up to the main lodge. The view from the hilltop suggests that those hills might very well be alive.

How to visit

Von Trapp Brewery is currently open for in-person dining by reservation only.

Lost Nation Brewing

Morrisville

If ever there was an unassuming location: Lost Nation Brewing sits in the back of an industrial park in the remote town of Morrisville. Its taproom and restaurant deliver on hospitality, though, serving up a range of IPAs, pilsners, black ales, and seasonal specialties. Anyone looking to expand their palate beyond the usual lagers and pale ales should try the brewpub’s gose, a slightly salty, sessionable brew packed with flavor.

Save room for the food, though. The kitchen at Lost Nation Brewing has a rotating menu put together by chef Erik Larson, who is also an instructor at the New England Culinary Institute. It features dishes made from local ingredients, like a soup-and-grilled-cheese pairing made with Cabot cheddar and focaccia.

How to visit

Lost Nation Brewing is closed temporarily due to the pandemic. In the meantime, keep an eye out for its beers in markets and restaurants throughout Vermont.

A trip to Lawson’s Finest Liquids is made for beer and outdoor enthusiasts.

Central and southern Vermont breweries

Vermont’s central and southern regions are easily accessible from New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and full of breweries to set as your destination or visit en route. 

Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Waitsfield

A brewery that gives back, Lawson’s Finest Liquids stands out not just for its high-quality beer but also for its involvement in the community. From ecoconscious practices like using earth friendly products in its operations to small-batch beer collaborations that raise money for charitable causes, these brewers are as committed to their home in Waitsfield as they are to creating great beverages.

Lawson’s focuses on IPAs and unique maple brews. It’s best known for its Sip of Sunshine IPA—technically brewed in Conneticut but available for purchase at the Waitsfield location—, but the double and triple versions (Double Sunshine and Triple Sunshine) are much rarer and sought after. If you’re looking for something off the beaten IPA path, give the rich and flavorful Fayston Maple Imperial Stout a go.

Beer enthusiasts also have the chance to spend the night at Lawson’s Airbnb at its original brewery location in nearby Warren. Close to Vermont’s scenic Mad River Valley, popular for backcountry skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, guests will have plenty of ways to “earn” that beer at the end of the day.

How to visit

Lawson’s Finest Liquids has closed its outdoor dining for the season, but food and beer are still available for curbside pickup.

River Roost Brewery

White River Junction

Like Foam Brewers, River Roost Brewery has roots in the Magic Hat family, with former Magic Hat brewer Mark Babson as its owner and operator. The barrel-aged stouts and smoked brown ales stand out, but it’s beers like the Mo’rilla IPA and Glimpse double IPA that have local drinkers salivating.

River Roost also sits in White River Junction, at the crossroads of Interstates 89 and 91, and can be reached easily from Boston (a 2- hour drive) and New York City (4.5 hours). The juicy IPAs being brewed alongside the humble, pale wood–furnished taproom make a visit to River Roost Brewery a worthy pit stop. 

How to visit

River Roost Brewery is currently open for curbside pickup and to-go beer.

Hermit Thrush

Brattleboro

Hang up any hankerings for a hoppy IPA at Brattleboro-based Hermit Thrush, where the motto is “yes, they’re all sour.” Here, the brewers focus on barrel-aged, sour beers made from 100 percent wild yeast—quite literally Vermont in a glass. 

You’ll always find a wide variety of sours stocked, but first-timers should keep an eye out for the Party Jam series, all of which are kettle-soured beers made from fruits, like blueberry or mango, and local hops. Or get adventurous with beers like its Rowdy Monk sour brown, which was aged for 12 to 18 months in red wine and Scotch barrels.

Additionally, the brewery maintains a focus on sustainability, employing green practices like canning instead of bottling its to-go beers and working to reduce the amount of waste produced with each barrel of beer. Even the taproom embodies this green ethos, with walls made from salvaged wood and other local, reclaimed materials.

How to visit

Hermit Thrush is open for daily curbside pickup.

This article originally appeared online in December 2018; it was updated on December 17, 2020.

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